What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time we were reading reports from Lansing that Gov. Rick Snyder had just signed a bill approving $21 million in emergency funds to dredge Michigan harbors and marinas. Everyone at the time agreed that low water levels the summer before threatened the state's vibrant tourism campaign and commercial shipping industry.
Harbors along the Sunrise Side benefited from the dredging appropriations.
This week a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report projected better than expected news for Great Lakes water levels over the summer. While the news doesn't mean that Lake Huron beachfront owners will gain back levels from decades ago, it does mean that at least this summer, they might not be as far from their back door to the water as in years past.
A combination of winter snow, frigid temperatures and the fact that this week the Great Lakes were more than 90 percent covered in ice all were contributing factors impacting water levels that were listed in the report.
Specifically, the connected lakes of Huron and Michigan would experience an increase of 9-14 inches in their water levels this summer from a year ago. Even still, however, they would still be between 9-12 inches below their long-term average. The three other lakes would fall much closer to their long-term averages after this winter.
Lakes Huron and Michigan are projected to be the slowest to gain back water levels simply because of their huge size. Federal officials said if the region experienced a lot of rain this spring, as it did last year, water levels could increase even higher. And, since the ice covering the Great Lakes isn't expected to break-up anytime soon, the longer it remains, the better it is for Great Lakes water levels long-term.
After years of low water levels, seeing a difference this summer will be welcome news for all of us.